Rolling Stone Interview, April 2006
[Ed. note: The interview was conducted with an elderly "interpreter," Hieronymus Snatch, more insect than human. The People's Tongue sat on a sofa behind and to the left of Snatch, both wearing swimming trunks and crudely-constructed tinfoil masks. The one on the left giggled sporadically and never spoke. The other spoke once, interjecting, "Can we wrap this up? It's time for swimming." Snatch interpreted nothing, needed frequent breaks, and smelled strongly of garlic.)
RS: Tell me a little about the genesis of The People's Tongue.
TPT: As with all things, in the beginning was the word. There was a confrontation, a glass bottle shattered on a bar, and both parties were ejected from the premises. Literally. Things had just fallen through. They were baffled by each other's tendencies.
RS: TPT is two members. Laszlo Jampf lives in Portland, Oregon, and has connections to other musicians in the area. What does he bring to the table?
TPT: He makes a mean clam chowder and plays several instruments effectively. He has an entourage, people willing to change his clocks when he's not looking so that he's able to have over thirty hours every single day.
RS: Yves Abouchar is a public school teacher in Indianapolis with no musical background. He's allegedly never even heard music. What's his deal?
TPT: Yves has his own shovel, makes his own rudimentary cough syrups, and has access to middle school band rooms. Other than that, it's hard to tell what he does. He's extremely difficult to talk to, and I would not recommend it.
RS: The first recording, correct me if I'm wrong, was the very first version of "Speedwalk Fantasy," a song the band has described as the greatest song ever written. Who initially wrote that track?
TPT: We agree. One of them wrote that. It was a spontaneous event in a motor vehicle.
RS: Whose idea was it to first record "Speedwalk Fantasy"?
TPT: One of them. No doubt about it.
RS: The first official project, an ambitious first project, was twenty-three versions of that song. A triple LP! Describe the recording process in those early days.
TPT: Well, generally microphones would be used, microphones strategically placed and bulbous. There were never rules except for the obvious--you've got to bring it. One of the members would have a chicken sandwich, record an incomplete version of the song, and then ship it electronically to the other all the way across the country. A simul would occur, and the other would tweak and augment until the track was finished. There'd be another simul.
RS: Has the recording process changed since the early days?
TPT: There were 23 versions of "Speedwalk Fantasy" and many more inaudible versions.
TPT: To be blunt, there were forces working against The People's Tongue and therefore against the cosmos. Ass Masterson and his cohorts, a nefarious lot. There were also problems from religious organizations and inexplicably minor league baseball player John Gall.
RS: How did you settle on the band's name? Were there earlier names?
TPT: The question is obvious and I refuse to answer it.
RS: Near the end of Speedwalk Fantasy, multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney, known for his work with Tom Waits and the B-52's, contributed instrumentation and vocals to one track. How did that collaboration come about?
TPT: Ralph was in the ducts. Yves Abouchar thought that he was hearing things--toy saxophones and growling. From there, it was inevitable.
RS: Ralph Carney was originally going to play on The People's Tongue's second project, a remake of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. How many tracks include his work, and why did the collaboration discontinue?
TPT: Well, he fell out of the truck. Literally. So to speak. There was a cross country trip to pick up a didgeridoo, and on the way back, Yves and Laszlo wanted to travel via motorcycle with side car. It was inevitable.
RS: Any other famous collaborators?
TPT: Marcel Duchamp frequently. Nancy Sinatra. John Coltrane. Houdini recorded some thumb piano while suspended from Jampf's basement ceiling. Mt. Hood. Barb, a janitor. Insects. Transients. Anybody can and will be utilized.
RS: Tell me about that second project.
TPT: There's nothing to tell. It was commissioned.
RS: Really? By whom?
TPT: I will not say. Next question!
RS: Were there rules on the Saturday Night Fever project?
TPT: Other than the obvious? Yes, there were several, but all of those were made obsolete by the very first rule--there are no rules. So originally, the band decided that the songs would be the same exact length as the originals. Some of them were. But then some of them weren't. "Open Sesame" was not a 19 minute song, but TPT's first version was nearly that long. To make a long story short, The People's Tongue proudly operates free of all rules, but not even The People's Tongue are aware whether or not rules exist.
RS: Most of the songs on that second album are unrecognizable.
TPT: Thank you. Yeah, Abouchar didn't know how some of the songs went. Jampf did but refused to be cooperate despite the death threats.
RS: The death threats?
RS: The current project, yet-to-be-completed Sonny Bono's Favorites. Is that the correct title?
TPT: You may have the correct title.
RS: 56 one-minute tracks, a wide variety of styles. You claimed in a press release that 56 was decided upon because it is twice 23.
TPT: Can we wrap this up? It's time for swimming.
RS: 23 times 2 is actually 46.
RS: Has the modus operandi changed or is the recording process the same as when The People's Tongue began?
TPT: The songs are a minute long. Each of them is exactly one minute.
RS: But the recording process? It's still a strictly long-distance collaboration?
TPT: One member will record one minute of complete and perfect silence and then listen to that silence looped with headphones. Headphones and loudness. Those have been key from the band's incarnation. Eventually, that member will begin hearing things that aren't in the one minute of silence. Those things will be added and then the track will be sent to the other member. That member listens to the track, again looped, until he hears nothing at all, and then he takes out the sounds that the first member added. It's sent back and a simul occurs.
RS: Where do the ideas for the songs come from? Some of them are fairly bizarre.
TPT: That question has been asked and answered adequately. This interview is over.